The Our Father. The Lord's Prayer. What you call it probably depends on your faith tradition. But I must ask you a question: when you recite it, do you think about what you are saying/praying? Seems like I mostly pray it when I am in a group setting, and then I am saying it aloud, concentrating on whether my prayer mates will say debtors or trespasses, and how they will finish.
Truly I think more carefully about the prayer Jesus taught his disciples1 when I pray it slowly in my own conversation with the Father. And so I've been thinking, perhaps we should alter the words of the Lord's Prayer . . . ok, don't shoot me yet. Here's what I mean: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us....'
Wait! Go back. Give us this day our daily bread. For more than 50 years I have prayed those words, and here's the thing-not one day in my life did I ever really think I would not have anything to eat, yet I prayed those very words. No, thank the good Lord, I have always had my daily bread-most days, more than enough.
Hmmm . . . so are we praying useless, rote words here then? Or does the good Lord have anything else in mind besides food?
Permit me a small departure for a moment. I have spent the last several days in Washington, D.C. and went to the new Museum of the Bible twice. Wow! Crazy impressively unbelievable in its technology, resources, collection of artifacts, which are spread over six floors, just six/10ths of a mile from the nation's capital. The name of the museum's main restaurant? Manna. The sign keeps popping up in my brain and though I whack it down, the mole pops up again.
This morning, I connected the dots when I was praying, and the manna mole reared its head again, deciding to give it a little closer inspection. Here are some of my morning thoughts: when the Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt, he sustained them in the desert by giving them their daily bread. In part I believe that was to train his children to depend on him for daily sustenance-- God gave them exactly what they needed... manna. When the people asked Moses what in the world had come from the sky, he said, 'It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat'.2 Turns out it was a wafer-like substance that tasted like honey, and it was in fact their daily bread.
Consider the psalmist's description: "Yet he [God] gave a command to the skies above
and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat,
he gave them the grain of heaven. Human beings ate the bread of angels;
he sent them all the food they could eat."3
What is the daily bread you and I need - the sustenance only our Father knows to supply? For some, it is certainly food; for most reading this, it can be much more than food. Further, I submit that you and I ought ask God what he knows we need. I mean, the Israelites did not dream up such a thing as 'manna' 'grain from Heaven, the bread of angels'... God did. He knew they needed it every day, and he gave them exactly what they needed, and it even tasted good. But it was one day at a time.
So as I wing my way across the checkerboard landscape of the middle states of America, I challenge you to ask God for your daily bread tomorrow -
-->what is the thing God knows you need to live fully each day?
Grace? Uh huh.
Mercy ~ for ourselves, for others-some days way more than others
Or is it something else entirely?
The ability to persevere when you would like to throw in the towel? Yup.
'Hope when your heart is grieving, suffering great loss? God knows.
Give us this day our daily bread, Father, for you alone know what we need
- and Lord, we would pause long enough in our prayer today to ask you
'what is on your mind for us?' 'What is on your heart for us?'
For that is the thing we wish for you to supply.
Because you told us to ask, seek and knock4, we will~
In Jesus' Name,
Manna . . . who knew?
1 - Matthew 6.9-13
2 - Exodus 16.15
3 - Psalm 78.23-25
4 - Matthew 7.7